Belfast Telegraph

Cheltenham runner Danielle's Journey named after teen with brain tumour in Dawn Run Mares Novice Hurdle

By Laura Abernethy

The horse named after a Co Antrim girl who is suffering from a brain tumour, will race at Cheltenham festival on Thursday.

Danielle's Journey was named after Danielle McGriskin (19) from Upper Ballinderry who started a blog after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour and hydrocephalus (water on the brain) in 2011.

After she raised more than £100,000 for brain tumour research, local horse racing club Realta got in touch to ask if they could name their first horse after her.

The Antrim-based club had leased a four-year-old filly who needed a name and they approached Danielle's mum Amanda in July 2015.

They offered Danielle a 5% share in the racehorse, meaning a proportion of her winnings goes to the Danielle McGriskin fund for the The Brain Tumour Charity.

The horse has gone onto great success, coming second on the second day of the Northern Ireland Festival of Racing, second again at Catterick and then coming first across the line at Down Royal on St Patrick's Day last year.

Now, the club have announced that she will appear at the biggest horse racing event of the year - the Cheltenham festival. She will race in the Dawn Run Mares Novice Hurdle at the meeting on St Patrick's Day.

Club manager Sean Maxwell explained: "It's been a rags to riches story - we couldn't afford to buy a horse at first and now she's going to Cheltenham. Any child that picks up a football dreams of going to Wembley and anyone who has a racehorse dreams of going to Cheltenham. Our dream is going to come true. Everyone is beyond excited. Around three quarters of our shareholders will be heading across on Thursday to cheer her home.

"Our chances of winning are probably very slim but it's not about going to win - it's so great just to be there as part of the occasion."

Danielle has been involved with the horse throughout her journey and was there when she won her first race on St Patrick's Day last year at Down Royal.

Danielle said: "My family and I were absolutely delighted when they asked us. We were really keen because they said that 5% of any winnings would be supporting the charity and it's helped to raise awareness.

"It's been really exciting. There's been a few times I've been in Bristol getting treatment and mum and I have been trying to tune the radio to hear the results. We've been to Down Royal twice as well."

She will be following this week's big race in between studying for her business qualification at South Eastern Regional College.

She added: "I'll be waiting to hear the results. It's a shame we can't get over but I will be following her from home. I will be crossing my fingers and I really do think she can win it."

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